Illegal immigration has become a heads-we-win / tails-you-lose proposition in this country. If the supporters of amnesty and open borders could get that codified into law, they would. Since they can't, they support comprehensive illegal immigration reform, with the idea being that the amnesty will occur, but they'll stall and slow-walk the security measures into oblivion. Since the people are onto that ploy and have demanded security first, the latest tactic is just to refuse to enforce the law. We can pass a bill that says we're putting a fence on our southern border, but we can't get the fence built. We can catch illegal aliens, but then ICE just releases them. Meanwhile, both parties talk about how important securing the border is, even as they deliberately take steps to make sure it never gets secured.
Why does this happen? Democrats believe, correctly, that illegal aliens would vote heavily Democratic if they become American citizens. So, the more illegal aliens that become American citizens, the more votes Democrats get. Many establishment Republicans foolishly believe that they need to be soft on illegal aliens to bring in more Hispanic voters. How bringing in millions of new votes for the other party -- so you can lose by a smaller margin with a block of voters who are already here -- makes sense as a winning electoral strategy is hard to figure. Additionally, both parties, but particularly the Republicans, have been influenced by sleazy businessmen who want to benefit from cheap illegal labor, while foisting all the costs on the rest of society.
This is why the problem doesn't get solved. The reality is that if the people in D.C. actually want to put an end to illegal immigration, they could do it within a year or two without resorting to the open borders and amnesty crowd's favorite imaginary bugaboo: rounding up millions of people, one by one, and deporting them.
How do we do it?
1) E-verify: This is the single most important thing we can do to combat illegal immigration because it gets to the root of why most illegals are coming here and staying here: jobs. If we mandate E-Verify -- which is really just a way to check the validity of Social Security numbers -- and the government puts the resources into the program, it will lock illegal aliens out of the overwhelming majority of jobs in America. Once we get to that point, there's no reason for most illegals to come here or for most of the illegals that are already here to stay here. So, if the flow of illegals into the country dramatically slows and the illegals that are already here begin to self-deport because they have no work, the biggest part of the problem is solved.
2) Finish the fence: The standard line from the open borders and amnesty crowd about the fence is, "If you build a thirty foot fence, somebody will just grab a forty foot ladder." However, we have built the fence out in a few places on our border and what we've found is that it actually works extremely well.
You've got to understand the purpose of the fence. It's not the end-all and be-all in border security; it's just a force multiplier. Illegals avoid areas where there's a fence and you don't need as much manpower there. That enables you to concentrate your manpower in other areas where it's impractical to build a fence (and there are some of those, such as where the border is a river and you'd be cutting off American livestock from their water supply).
We've already passed a law to build a fence on the border and it was supposed to be done in 2009. All we have to do is get the government to stop deliberately dragging its feet and finish the job.
3) More resources: The agencies that enforce our immigration laws may be the only thing in the entire federal government that's being deliberately underfunded. We don't have enough border patrol agents, we don't have enough agents enforcing the law internally, we don't have enough resources to detain the illegals we catch, we don't put the money that's needed in E-Verify, and for that matter, we don't even have enough resources to adequately handle legal immigration. Again, this is all by design. Heads, we win / Tails, you lose. You can pass any law you want, but if the government won't fund the people needed to enforce it and it won't put the resources needed to make sure that if we capture someone, we can hold onto him until he’s deported, then the law isn't going to be effective.
4) An effective visa program: One of the dirty legal secrets of illegal immigration is that as many as half of the illegals didn't sneak over the border. Instead, they came here legally with a visa and just didn't leave.
That's actually pretty easy for people to do since, believe it or not, the United States doesn't have an effective system for telling whether visa holders leave the country. If you come here on a visa and choose not to leave when it expires, chances are that the government has no idea you're still here. Technically, I-94 forms are supposed to be presented when visa holders leave the country, but there's minimal enforcement, people from 36 countries are exempt, and very little money and manpower are put into tracking down people who overstay their visas – like, for example, 4 of the 9/11 hijackers.
Unless we insist on having these forms filled out and start making a real attempt to track down more than a tiny fraction of the people who overstay their visas, we're not going to fix our illegal immigration problem.
5) Anyone caught doesn't ever come back legally: We've set up a system where there's no permanent penalty for being an illegal. If you try to cross the border and get caught, we send you back. If you do manage to make it across, you probably won't get caught. However, if you do, we may just let you go. Even if you do get deported, well, no big deal. You just try to creep back in and the cycle starts all over again. In theory, the penalties for "illegal re-entry" into the U.S. are harsh, but in practice they're often non-existent. Just ask Obama's Auntie Zeituni who was instructed to leave the country, didn't do it, got caught again and was allowed to stay here, in public housing, on the dole.
Here's an alternate idea. If you get caught in the United States illegally, we fingerprint you, take a DNA sample, and you are NEVER allowed to become a citizen or enter the United States legally again. That means if you have relatives here, you will NEVER be able to legally visit them. If we ever do create a guest worker program that you could potentially participate in, you'll be locked out. If you ever hope to be an American citizen, that will be off the table.
Some illegals won't care at all about this penalty, but for many illegals, this would be a tremendous disincentive to enter or stay in the United States illegally. You want to see illegals "self-deport?" This one change would drive millions of them out of the country.